Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Send questions or comments about this web site to
webmaster@kripara.com.
Website created and managed by KRI staff
Copyright © 2009, 2010 Kitt Research Initiative
All rights reserved.
Created: May 20, 2009
Last modified: July 23, 2010


bridging science
and parascience

The two most basic skills are Organization and Thinking. It sounds simple, but there it is. For anything. None of the skills here is "necessary" for Ghost Hunting, but having any of them makes any job easier. Start with organization because organization helps with thinking.

Leonardo da Vinci
Organization Thinking

Organization

Organization makes anything easier. From finding the time to add a new interest to your already full schedule to being able to budget in some kind of new (and possibly expensive) equipment, being organized while doing it will keep your stress levels much more manageable - which helps you think and act with more clarity. Just look at the way TAPS packs their van the next time you see an episode of "Ghost Hunters" - they are organized! The most important aspect of organization is to eliminate wasted use of resources so you can redirect those resources to the new venture (or wherever you wish). Like anything else, ghost hunting should not "suck you dry."


Time management

The first step to organization is Time Management. Particularly with regard to paranormal pursuits, if you intend to get serious you need to seriously get a grip on how you use time. An average investigation for us (about four hours) with six people takes more than sixty man-hours just to properly go through the audio. Thirty to process and go through the video, and research could easily take that much time as well. Add it all up and a single investigation could easily accumulate well over a hundred man-hours to complete. If each team member devoted an hour a day, that'd be two and a half weeks. Do you have that kind of time?

Finding the time, though, isn't so hard. Just shut off the television. It's as your mother told you - pick up a book and read instead. First, between the ads and the credits, about a third of the time you spend in front of the tube is a complete waste of time, and then you have to contend with re-runs, rehashes of old plots, or just terrible stories. TV really is a mindless way to "kill time." Even documentaries are next to useless. A good two hour documentary can only give you about a quarter of the information a similar book can, and the book carries such things as footnotes and bibliographies which can be invaluable when conducting research. TV gives you nothing. If you don't turn it on in the first place, according to the A. C. Nielsen Co. (the ratings people), the average person saves more than four hours per day! Even the habit of just using a television to create "background noise" is uselessly distracting.

clocks

There is certainly a huge number of little time-saving things a person can do, but none can even come close to the savings returned by leaving the TV off. Still, many of those techniques are closely linked to other benefits, like concentration and stress reduction - both valuable in their own right. Once the television is off, check out a good book on the subject.

The most important thing to remember is that if you're a member of a group and can't find the time to do the things you need to do for it (like evidence review, etc.) you need to consider resigning from that group. If you don't have the time to apply yourself, then don't put yourself in a position in which you're forcing others do it for you.


Space management

Nearly as important is Space Management. It's not just a matter of having the space, it's a matter of having the space adequately organized. And not just for gear, or records, or whatever else you deem necessary for the project. You need to be able to separate your space enough so one function doesn't interfere with another. Organizing your space reduces stress and improves efficiency (saving time). Removing clutter from work areas improves concentration. Again, there are any number of excellent books out there that can help you more properly address the subject, but some quick "Rules of Thumb" might give you some direction here:

  •   Devoting some space specifically to equipment, records, what have you, makes it much easier to find it when you need it. Also, effectively organizing that space will make it immediately obvious when something isn't where it's supposed to be - especially important if you tend to lend things out. If you know where it all is and each item has an immediately visible place in which it should be, you've accomplished your mission.
  •   The same is true for eating spaces and sleeping spaces, etc. If you only eat in your eating space, you'll digest better. If you only sleep in your sleeping space, you'll rest much more thoroughly. If you only work in your work space, you'll have everything you need right at your fingertips. Don't just allocate space - use it as allocated too.
  •   Visibly divide your spaces. If you have to split your bedroom into a work area and a sleeping area, do something to make it obvious which part of that space you are in while you're there. This helps dramatically when it comes to preventing stuff that belongs in one spot from spilling over into another.
  • computer area
  •   If you have trouble making the amount of space you want or need, it's time to either de-clutter, or move to a bigger location. The simplest rule for de-cluttering is that if you haven't used something in a year, it's time to get rid of it. You can sell it (garage sale, ebay, craigslist) or throw it away, but if you give it to a friend it might still be there should you ever want to borrow it.
  •   This is true for sentimental objects too. It's okay to devote space (both display space and storage) to things that hold a place in your heart, but when the items start to overflow that space, it's time to find a new home for some of it. Prioritize: which item is more significant, item A or item B? Also, how much can be appropriately given away? If you're still holding onto little Johnny's bronzed first shoes and little Johnny is now thirty years old, perhaps you should give them to him.

Again, space management improves efficiency, reduces stress, and makes the items you've allocated space to more easily manageable. It's worth the effort.


Finances

Very few people can say they have all the money they want or think they need. Those who do have what they need have already mastered their finances. The rest of us have to budget, and good equipment isn't cheap. And again, a good book can give you a better review of the subject than we can, but there are some simple guidelines that help here too:

  •   The first thing any book will tell you is to keep a notebook for a few weeks to a month and keep track of every penny you spend. At the end of the month (or whatever time frame you select), add up all the similar expenses and see what you actually spend on what. Smokers, the money you spend per month might make you seriously try to quit; and those of you who think you must have that extra large mocha latte from Starbucks every morning might instead take five minutes every morning to make it yourselves. We all waste money sometimes, but only a few of us know where it goes.
  •   When budgeting, ask yourself these questions, in this order. Do I really need it? Do I really need that much of it? Are there less expensive versions which accomplish the same task for less money? Then do it again. You'll surprise yourself by the number of things you can do without, once you get past your self-delusions.
  •   If you aren't paying off your credit cards in full every month, you shouldn't have credit cards. Pay them off and cut them up. It's that simple, interest charges are a completely useless expense. Use debit cards instead.
  •   Carefully check your bank statements every month. Talk to the bank if items are there you don't recognize. And shared accounts should only be used for fixed expenses. If you do it any other way you are constantly at risk of exceeding your limits - overdrafting, etc. - and vulnerable to outrageous fees.
  •   If you use a debit card, check for usage fees. Some companies charge you a small fixed amount if you use it at their establishment, so that $1.00 pack of gum might actually be costing you 35% more. Keep cash on hand for small purchases, and withdraw the cash you need just before large ones. Also, be careful using ATMs. The fees for a withdrawal vary from machine to machine, but only the ones owned by your own bank are generally free.
balance

Equipment can get very expensive, but a final note here: think "used." Especially when you first get involved. Buying decent used equipment lets you test it for a fraction of the cost, and you can recover most of your investment if you find it doesn't suit your needs.


Balancing it all

"Balance" may not be a skill as much as it is an art form, but if you find yourself short with time, space, or money, it's one you have to learn for yourself. There are no hints we can give you except to say you need to carefully weigh how much you want to get involved against how much you value the other things in your life. For your own sake though, it's important to maintain outside interests too.

Ghost hunting, or any other related pursuit, can easily fill your day completely. If you already have other things to do - like a job, or a family, or anything else - you have to limit your activities so as to minimize the effect participation will have on those around you. Balance yourself. Draw limits as to how much of your resources you can devote, and only take your interest that far. If you find you can't start up a group and investigate someplace new every week without traumatizing your spouse and children, then consider joining someone else's. If you can't find a group that suits your needs, then consider just reading up on the topic of your interest until such time as you have more resources available. If you value your other interests, be careful that this one doesn't overwhelm it. The deeper you go into this paranormal black hole, the more it can consume you, and unless you are willing and prepared to make it "your life," try to keep it a hobby.




Thinking

At first, "thinking" doesn't seem much like something you can do anything about. We've all met some person somewhere who we're just sure will never be able to "think himself out of a paper bag," like the assets we're born with are those we're stuck with for life. Well, yes... and no. We all have a certain level of skill attached to the level of "gift" we're born with, and there are things you can do to improve your effectiveness. It's been said that Einstein only used less than 10% of his brain. So how would you fare against him if you were using 15% and he only 5%? The ability to think definitely has some mitigating factors that you can work on and improve.


Clarity

By "clarity" we mean improving the environment around you to make it easier to think clearly, and take appropriate health precautions. You can improve your mind by improving yourself and your environment. So yes, this section on clarity is going to be about health maintenance.

Sleep right. Nothing improves the mind better than rest. Sleep continuously for a minimum of six hours a day. Do what you can to limit light and noise - your body responds, whether you realize it or not. Sleep comfortably, in the same place at the same time - your body will regulate itself around a schedule.

Thinker

Eat right. We all know what this means. Limit fat intake (your body handles fat very similarly to the way it handles alcohol), and sugar (we all know what happens to kids who are on a "sugar high," and it happens to adults too) also. "Eat to sustain" rather than "eat to fill" - when you eat to fill the body will adjust and keep raising the "fill line" higher. Healthy people think better. Get over it, and start doing it. Beau, our medium, takes eating properly so seriously she sometimes goes through periods in which she will only eat raw food, and she claims it has a direct effect on her abilities. No one expects you to go to that extreme, but common sense should definitely be the rule.

Exercise. Again, we don't have to tell you how to do this, or why. Exercise promotes blood flow to the brain. Take advantage of that fact.

Limit drugs and alcohol. This includes caffeine and nicotine; limit their use as much as possible or eliminate it entirely. Talk to your doctor about reducing any prescription medications you may be on. Sometimes doctors add prescriptions without telling you the old ones are no longer necessary, and a few doctors out there still "medicate first," needlessly. It's worth it to ask.


Logic

Improving "logic" can only really be achieved through practice. Expose yourself to people who are intelligent and you will tend to "rise to their level."

Read. A lot. Particularly non-fiction, so you may as well read decent books on the subject you're pursuing. If you aren't sure what's good, ask your librarian or someone at the counter of your favorite bookseller. The benefits of reading are endless. It exposes you to intelligence levels (through the authors) you may not have access to at work, etc. It gives you far more complete knowledge on any subject than even the most excellent documentaries. It expands your vocabulary (memory), your proper use of grammar (pattern recognition), and flow of concepts and argument (logic).

Question everything. Who, what, why, where, when, and how. People will often give you answers, and sometimes you'll be surprised by them. Besides, true intelligence isn't about having the right answers. It's about asking the right questions, and sometimes you have to ask a whole lot of wrong questions to find out which was the right one!

We're not sure we should include this one, but KRI founder Andy Kitt insists it's true: play video games! Even games that are stictly hand-eye coordination may have some small benefit in improving decision-making capabilities, but strategy games have a clear benefit. Two of Andy's favorites are Minesweeper and Freecell, both of which come included with Microsoft operating systems on most computers. Freecell is excellent for stretching foresight and depth of thought, and Minesweeper may improve speed and accuracy with regard to decision-making.


Perspective

Some readers won't get this one, but it's important to mention: your perspective is never the same as the person next to you, and you must understand that it is possible for two people who believe they have diametrically opposed opinions to both be right.

It's a fact, however. Take advantage of it and learn from them. No matter how "ignorant" you may think a person who disagrees with you seems, his perspective also contains at least a kernel of truth, and as such is worthy of consideration. This skill is particularly helpful in the exploration of paranormal fields - there are countless very intelligent "skeptics" who are quite eager to express their opinions, and these are the people who will show you what the "right questions" really are. Instead of arguing with these people (usually fruitlessly unswayable anyhow), keep asking them more and deeper questions. When they've run out of answers, find a different skeptic.

column

A quick example of this came about over the phenomenon of "firewalking," a ceremony in which individuals will walk over beds of hot coals in bare feet, seemingly none the worse for wear. If you find the right skeptic he may be able to "prove" the falseness of this phenomenon by giving you an excellent discourse on the nature of heat transmission. Which, by the way, does demonstrate that at least some firewalkers are shams. However, with even a little bit of reading it's quite simple to find examples that can't be explained by that method. So, next time you speak with your pet skeptic, present the examples and again ask his opinion. And he'll give you one, right or wrong. The value here is that his certainty in the validity of his own perspective will keep providing you with new leads to investigate. If not, there will always be another skeptic to take up his side.

If nothing else, however, it's important to recognize not everyone thinks or believes as you do, and it is far more valuable to consider opposing opinions carefully than it is to argue against them.


Paradigm shifts

Your paradigm is how you look at the world, and as surely as the fact exists that yours has at least a kernel of truth, recognize now that it also has at least a kernel of falsehood. And, if you are doing a good job investigating whichever field you pursue, you'll discover some of those parts that are untrue. When this happens, your paradigm will "shift" to accomodate the new information. Because of this, it's important to try to keep track of your beliefs as you go... especially those parts which have changed over time.

Keeping a journal is an excellent idea. Reread it from time to time. It'll give you great insight as to your personal growth, and perhaps make it easier for you to see what others' perspectives might look like. Most importantly, however, it helps keep you grounded. Test and retest your current paradigm against the old one, and try to pinpoint what made it change. If something specific happened to change your opinion, discovering it may lead you to a key point to examine more carefully. If you believe in ghosts now but didn't last year, ask yourself what changed in you, and then ask how you can show that to others. Just remember... you weren't wrong before. You believed what you believed for a reason. If you keep examining those reasons and changes, you may be able to help unlock those same doors in others.


And now here are two extremely valuable bits...

... that weren't linked in from the top. Call them "rewards" for reading all the way through!

Do the best you can with what you have. But start now! Your "best" right now is limited by the situation you're in, but if you always seek to do your best you'll automatically be primed for the second bit...:

The 10% rule! That's Beau's name for something Japanese industry has been doing for a while now, which they call the concept of "constant improvement." Start doing something now, at least a little bit, and keep working at improving. The idea is that "perfection" cannot be achieved on Earth anyhow, so there is always room to do better. And, connecting to the previous blurb, the more you push your limits, the more your limits will stretch. Keep looking for ways to do it better!